The debate on which era was superior and how stars of yesteryear would perform in the current era, and vice versa, is an ongoing one that spans nearly all sports.
The NBL is not immune to this debate , with one of the all-time greats of Australia’s top league, Andrew Gaze weighing in on how he thought NBL stars and greats of the past would perform in today’s game.
Seven-time NBL MVP Andrew Gaze believes the stars of the 1990’s would dominate in today’s era of basketball.
Gaze is the NBL’s greatest ever scorer, winning the scoring title a remarkable 14 times. When speaking on the latest NBL Rewind podcast, the two-time champion said he thinks some of the league’s legends would still perform at a superstar level under the current rules.
“Nothing…there would be nothing you take away,” Gaze said, when asked if there was anything a modern-day defence could take away from his scoring profile.
“I think under the system – I’m stuffed without the system – if the system comes with it and the priorities are the same then I can’t see (why not stars from his era would lead the NBL in scoring today) whether it’s Copes (Lanard Copeland) or…I say that for all these guys.
“Shane Heal would torch this league right now. Derek Rucker would kill this league right now. God love these new guys and as you should, they are super talented, but Leroy (Loggins) would give them fits – it’s not even close.
“That’s an old guy trying to be objective about it but what I see in the changes in the game works to their benefit, not to their disadvantage.
“Where the disadvantage comes in is at the other end. These days the individual match ups are absolutely critical, and your individual skills, but without a defensive system at the other end of the floor, if it’s a one-on-one battle, it’s going to go in the favour of the offence more than the defence most of the time.
“You need a system defensively if you’re going to contain these guys.”
Gaze reckons the current rules of the NBL are tailored to scoring, which is why it would advantage players with immense offensive talents.
However, he did concede the added athleticism in today’s game would be a significant challenge for players from a past era.
“The rules have changed with the shot clock,” Gaze said.
“I personally welcome the changed rules, I feel the changed rules would have helped me because there is more scoring you can do.
“Just do the maths – you have a 14 second reset, you’ve got a 24 second shot clock, a lot of the time I was playing with a 30 second shot clock. There was some of those games that we used to play in a 48-minute game, particularly against the Magic, if you got 90 points, that was a high scoring game.
“It was a different time. I think the game these days a lot of it is just with the ball and how you got to guard with the ball and unfortunately, it’s something I was not able to do a lot of.
“I love all the on-ball action we are seeing these days but there is an art and a way in which to find cheap baskets with action off the ball. Watching a lot of the defences and when you’re a coach in the NBL, you’re doing 60 hours a week of watching tape, of watching other games. Not to say that Copes and I would get there and look at it and go, crickey, wouldn’t we have loved to go up against this, hey.
“There is an element to that but it’s really hard because of the athletes these days. Bogues (Andrew Bogut) and Kevin (Lisch) and that used to say, you guys played against plumbers and carpenters…it wasn’t quite that bad but certainly the athleticism these days would be more of a challenge.”
Listen to the NBL Rewind podcast every Thursday night from 6:30pm AEST. Each week, Cam Luke and Liam Santamaria are joined by a special guest to relive some of the greatest moments in NBL history. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.